New Year’s Eve partiers unwilling to endure cold-weather festivities, like the traditional “ball drop” in New York’s Times Square, can find exuberant celebrations and far warmer temperatures in the Florida Keys.
Key West visitors can choose from several lighthearted takeoffs on the Times Square gala as midnight approaches Friday, Dec. 31.
At the Bourbon St. Pub/New Orleans House complex, 724 Duval St., renowned drag queen Sushi is to star in the “Red Shoe Drop” revelry for the 24th year. Seconds before midnight, a gigantic red high heel carrying the elaborately gowned Sushi will be lowered from the complex’s balcony toward the cheering crowd below.
As well as Sushi’s lively banter before the “drop,” spectators can enjoy performances by notable female impersonators and other local and national talents on a street-side stage.
Street viewing of the entertainment and “drop” is free and open to the public. A limited number of tickets for a VIP balcony party overlooking the stage is offered each year; call New Orleans House Guest House at 305-293-9800 for VIP ticket availability.
Party people on lower Duval Street can watch the “drop” of a gigantic manmade conch shell, the symbol of the Florida Keys, to the flat roof of Sloppy Joe’s Bar, 201 Duval St. The fun is emceed by a rooftop host and, as a huge clock counts down the seconds to midnight, the supersized shell begins to descend. Live music inside Sloppy Joe’s rounds out the revelry. For more info, just click here.
In the Key West Historic Seaport, New Year’s Eve merriment is centered around the Schooner Wharf Bar, 202 William St., and celebrates the island’s colorful seafaring heritage. Just before midnight a “pirate wench” is to be lowered from the top of the mast of the majestic Schooner America 2.0 — completing her descent as the clock strikes and cannons boom to welcome 2022. The event includes live music, dancing and festivities at the Schooner Wharf. Click here for more details.
At the Ocean Key Resort & Spa, 0 Duval St. on Key West Harbor, plans call for a huge replica of a Key lime wedge to splash down into a larger-than-life margarita glass on the property’s Sunset Pier at midnight. The elite event features live entertainment by The Beatle Band as well as dancing, a superpremium open bar and butler-passed appetizers. Only 125 tickets are available. For a ticketing link, click here.
A New Year’s Eve gala also is planned at the original home of Pan American World Airways featuring the midnight “flight” of a “stewardess” in a replica Pan Am aircraft. Today called First Flight Island Restaurant & Brewery, the structure now located at 301 Whitehead St. was the place where Pan Am’s first tickets were sold in 1927. Other attractions include a full open bar, champagne, chef-manned food stations and live music. Attendees are encouraged to wear 1920s Gatsby-era costumes (flapper dresses and ropes of pearls, anyone?). For information and ticketing, just click.
While the festivities outlined here are New Year’s Eve highlights, you can discover more Florida Keys holiday activities — including other enjoyable ways to ring in 2022 — by checking out the island chain’s complete calendar of events here. And however you choose to celebrate, whether you’re in the Keys or elsewhere, may you have the happiest holiday season and a joyful new year.
Click here to subscribe to the Florida Keys & Key West’s LGBTQ travel blog.